Things have been very quiet on the Carmel front since her 2015 single “Sad Situation” b/w “Second Wife Blues.” It was a Bandcamp release that I still haven’t yet purchased from the 3-mile want list, but for reasons unknown, I happened to investigate what was up with Carmel today for the first time in ages, and in spite of hearing nothing on the wind, discovered that a new album, her first with an all-new band, and the first studio album of original material in 27 years, was out this February from Secret Records.
She’s been a favorite singer of mine for her bracing blend Post-Punk, Dub, Jazz, and Soul since 1983, when I chanced to hear a bit of her hit “More, More, More.” Carmel figured heavily as my favorite band from the NWOBJP in the mid-80s. How many Jazz singers have Brian Eno producing their work from time to time? I’ve collected her work since the mid-80s and am always ready for more.
She split with the classic trio + extra hands lineup that featured Jim Paris on bass and Gerry Darby on drums sometime following the “Strictly Piaf” cover album of 2011. And since then only the “Sad Situation” single of 2015 and a DL single, “Shoe Shufflin'” the following year have pierced the silence. Until now.
Carmel: Wild Country – UK – CD 
- Wild Country 2021 5:58
- Misty 5:41
- September Sun 5:18
- Second Wife Blues 4:15
- You Walked Out 4:22
- Sad Situation 5:42
- Forget The Bills 2:54
- Tok 5:56
- The Waterfall 5:44
- Warm & Tender Love 3:32
- Love Me Or Leave Me 4:54
It’s interesting to see that “Sad Situation” also is part of this album, but the version here at 5:52 is much longer than the 3:36 single version, suggesting a possible re-record with the band years later. “Second Wife Blues” has the same 4:15 length on the single and here, leading me suspect that it’s the same version. It’s also interesting to note that “Shoe Shufflin'” was absent here, but newly recorded versions of the fiery “Tok” from “The Falling” and the gossamer beauty of “The Waterfall” from “Set Me Free” have been revisited by the artist. Speaking volumes about the confidence of revisiting material that sure seemed to be the artist at the top of their game the first time out.
Sampling the wares on iTunes revealed a wildly eclectic approach here that encompassed her normal Soul and Jazz territory with some surprising outliers to folk and country figuring in the mix! The song “Misty” was a cover of the standard given a new life as if mid-late period Scott Walker [imagine around the time of “Nite Flights” or “Climate Of Hunter”] had tried to take the venerable song off road. All of it powerfully sung by the singer from Scunthorpe. We’d expect no less.